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Reba McEntire Reflects on the Inspiration of Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Others

Reba McEntire just opened up about the younger generation of artists who inspire her, but she might never have even been a singer without some of the female country music icons, who paved the way for her.

"Lots of great women inspired me, starting with my mother," McEntire told Woman's Day. "Then there’s Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Barbara Mandrell, Anne Murray, Tammy Wynette — all ladies I looked up to and highly respected and watched. Minnie Pearl is another lady I got to meet, later on, before she passed. I’m just a huge fan, but also an admirer of their strengths and what they gave to society, especially country music."

McEntire is especially fond of Mandrell, for what she did both on and off stage, and says others should be paying more attention to her career as well.

"I was closest to Barbara Mandrell," McEntire recalled. "We were friends early on. Barbara was a very energetic, loyal, determined, hardworking woman, and I learned a lot from her. You just go and do your job, you be prepared. She was doing six shows in Las Vegas when she was in her early teens, 13 years old.

"I’ll never forget her telling me that she cooked peanut brittle for her fan club’s Christmas gifts," she continued. "Tons of peanut brittle, and she’d send it out to all her fans for Christmas. She was a devoted entertainer. She doesn’t get the attention she deserves."

The 64-year-old is taking notes from some of today's rising stars, who still teach McEntire, even after more than 40 years in the business.

"I always learn stuff from the younger females," said the Grand Ole Opry member. "It’s a lot of fun. We just did a thing for Spotify with RaeLynn, Maddie & Tae, Abby Anderson, and Lauren Jenkins. I would say, 'Who are you listening to in the country music business now?' And they’d tell me. And then I’d say, 'Well, who do you think is really working hard and isn’t getting the attention?' And oh my gosh!

"They were jumping up on the soapbox to talk about this person who was not getting the recognition they should," she recalled. "It was so inspiring to see them say that instead of 'I have no idea what anybody else is doing.'"

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McEntire's latest album, Stronger Than the Truth, was released in April. Purchase the record at Reba.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rick Diamond

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